Taking Back the Government

An interesting strategic discussion has developed in the comments to a post from last Thursday. Writes Michael:

How do we regain control of our government? I don’t know. Politics is a rich man’s game now, and probably always was, just not as blatant. Without lobbyists in the State House, or White House peddling their influence things might be a little better. I am not innocent here, my union, th IAFF has a huge lobby in Washington, and a lot of local clout as well. I believe that this is a direct result of us trying to maintain an equal footing at the upper levels of government. Collectively, firefighters are able to contribute money to get some leverage, leverage that would be used by people and institutions with opposing views about things like minimum manning, equipment, training, working conditions and safety.
Get rid of the lobbyists on both sides and begin there. Stop making it so expensive to win an election, but how?

To which BobN responds:

It’s a very complex question, but here are some stream-of-consciousness thoughts:
1. In the worst case, a second American Revolution. Not recommended. I think we have the obligation to do everything in our power to avoid going down that path.
2. That’s why it is so important for people to re-learn (or learn, since it isn’t much taught in school any more) American history, and to become politically active. (Is it a Statist conspiracy that public school “health” classes encourage kids to be sexually active to distract them from being politically active?)
3. Politics isn’t necessarily a rich man’s game, if enough people can be mobilized. Sure it takes money – some professionals estimate $10K for a state rep seat, double that for a state senate seat. And at the state level, those local races determine everything because the GA has all the power. You don’t need a state-wide TV or radio buy to run for rep in District 31 – most of that money would be wasted. The right candidates can tap into grassroots-level money and use it effectively in ways that are tightly targeted on their districts.
4. Here’s one way to look at it: if each of the 3500 people at the first Tax Day Tea Party contributes $3, that’s a rep seat budget.
5. The experience of the past year gives me hope that people are seeing through media propaganda, making message more important than money. As voters become more informed and aware, that dynamic will strengthen. The imminent threats to family budgets from unemployment, nationalized health care, and government employees outstripping them in income and benefits, have angered many people enough to get off their couches and get active. This is very healthy for society.
6. Contributing to the weakening of money is the internet. Putting ads on Youtube or your website costs nearly nothing, and if they are really good they go viral to provide a size and quality of audience that money can’t buy. Blogs are rapidly growing their influence relative to TV and big newspapers.
That said, the Statists have been amassing power for decades and the government/Progressive machine has a great deal of power woven into the system. Defeating them will not be easy and it will not take only one election cycle.

My first thought is that the problem with the “block the lobbyists” impulse is that lobbyists — aka, citizens — have Constitutional rights to petition their government and otherwise speak and contribute toward elections and legislation.
My second thought may sound simplistic, but I’d suggest that the answer to all of these problems is to move away from centralized government. If more issues are decided by state governments, representing relatively small portions of the country, and town governments, overseeing populations in the thousands, there simply won’t be as much incentive for multimillion dollar advertising campaigns. This is true not only because the audience/electorate would be much smaller, but also because motivated residents could more easily counteract big-dollar campaigns with grassroots assistance and community interaction.
The difficult part — even once a critical mass of people stop being lured by the promise of marginal economies of scale savings through regional and national administration — will be electing a political class intent on dispersing its own power, replacing incumbents with non-politicians who will fight to claim power from above while pushing as much as feasible to tiers of government below. That’s an long-shot type of task that’ll have to begin with representatives way at the bottom of the hierarchy building up constituencies to demand the return of their authority and pushing for an end to gerrymandering so that lower political structures that cover geographical areas (i.e., towns and cities) have direct lines (and career paths) to higher offices.

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George
George
11 years ago

Politics is a “rich man’s game” — only if we let it be that way!
Lobbyists have all the power — only if we let them!
We the people need to wake up, rise up and speak up in every situation where the system hurts us and our children, and helps those who are masterful at political craft! We CAN defeat them simply by mustering the desire to do so! We need to stand up BECAUSE we are FREE. We don’t need a revolution, necessarily, we are already free to choose our government, our representation and what our children learn in schools. We just need to step up and expect nothing less than complete and unadulterated Liberty!

BobN
BobN
11 years ago

Right on, Justin. And dismantling the centralized power of state and national government is a big part of what the Tea Party is all about.

gina
gina
11 years ago

Too bad the RI Tea Party is all about its own centralized power. Why isn’t the Tea Party banging on the State House doors demanding the GA take some kind of action?
Westerly has taken the first step, where are your Reps? http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText10/HouseText10/H7336.pdf

gina
gina
11 years ago

Before anyone jumps all over me, I didn’t say I agree with all the mandates from which they are asking relief, but its a start.
http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/thewesterlysun.com/content/tncms/assets/editorial/f/c7/906/fc7906b6-11a8-11df-897b-001cc4c002e0.pdf.pdf?_dc=1265300336

michael
michael
11 years ago

It all boils down to smaller governmental bodies governing smaller jurisdictions. The feeling of helplessness and inactivity dissipates with the knowledge that your voice is heard, your voice counts.
Not much is more demoralizing than election nights, when your candidate loses by a landslide and the incumbent, or somebody you just know is wrong for the job takes control. Or listening to a worthy candidate lose credibility over something he did, or said, or wrote in a blog years ago. Knowing the people personally, or even as an aquaintance helps to decide who to elect. Polished ad campaigns nearly never tell the whole story of a person.
I never could figure out why we need thousands of lawmakers when we have a perfectly good law, The Constitution.

Steve
Steve
11 years ago

I am sure some smart guy will come up with a reason for everything I am about to type or justify the actions of some so called leaders of a movement and if that does not work they will target my grammer or spelling so lets make it clear I am not a writer or a ploititian. But here are the most important things you need in my opinion to win an election Honesty,Integrity,Charactor, Courage and Honor. It does not take a dollar it takes hard work stay true to yourself and the people you want to serve stick to your principles Look at Sarah Palin the republican Obama Leading sheep to the slaughter endorsing the likes of a lefty John McCain and ultra eletist and bilderburg Rick Perry when there are real conservitive Constitutional candidates Like Medina in TX or JD Hayworth in AZ This bugs me to no end because the right says “look at all these sheep listening to Obama” as they walk off a cliff listening to Palin This is very dangerous given the weak state of our nation We must get off our asses and go over these politicians with a fine tooth comb. We have to vote for the person and not the party These political games and payback is not representation to the people they serve but rather to a agenda they need using us to get it done. You say you are for smaller government, fiscal responsibility, Border control, no amnesty,and the US Constitution, Thats not McCain or Perry at all so why endorse them? I think we have the same thing going on here in RI I cant prove it but something stinks with the whole Caprio, open primarys laffey, the Gov,thing It seems to me the machine is trying to… Read more »

BobN
BobN
11 years ago

A fine post, Steve. You’ll find no criticism from this direction.

Steve
Steve
11 years ago

Thank you BobN

Jim K
Jim K
11 years ago

The “Sarah Palin” type Tea Party people need to understand that the Republican Party will not Reinvent itself and that there is a difference between true Ron Paul type Libertarians and the Corporate card carrying Republican two faced vultures who are hijacking the movement. I truly believe that many of these people have been bamboozled by cheap rhetoric. Once they clearly see this difference they need to make a choice of either supporting the TRUE Tea Party or just cross over to the Republican Party.

BobN
BobN
11 years ago

Well Jim, since the Tea Party is non-partisan and does not plan to run candidates as a political party, I don’t know how one can support the “true” Tea Party.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m an active member of the RI Tea Party.
In many states, the Tea Parties have an organized effort to put members into leadership posts of the political parties, and thereby push those parties to the principles and positions of the Tea Party. Naturally this is overwhelmingly on the Republican side.
In RI,the Tea Party remains a non-partisan, citizens group. The Rhode Island Republican Assembly has for years been pressing the Republican Party toward a conservative platform and style in the manner of WF Buckley and Reagan. (www.ri-ra.org)
If you don’t like the squishy, big government message of the “moderate” Republicans, you might take a look at joining RIRA. Their monthly meeting is tomorrow, Thursday Feb. 11, at 6:30 pm at the Elks Club on W. Shore Road in Warwick.

Jim K
Jim K
11 years ago

Come on now Bob don’t tell me you don’t know who the true Tea Party is? I know a lot of Republicans would love to brush off the Libertarian types, and put us out of the picture but it’s not going to happen without a fight. Many Republicans have hijacked Libertarian ideas and talking points, but are not willing to stand up for them. Republicans want smaller government, unless it has to do with something they think should be controlled by government. Why not let Americans decide social issues for themselves? True Liberty. Where do you stand?

BobN
BobN
11 years ago

Jim, your broad-brush smearing of the Republican party betrays your ignorance of it. Perhaps you should go to that meeting and talk to a few Republicans and see what they think. You will find a wide variety of positions and emphasis on a number of issues, but agreement on certain core issues related to restoring government within its original Constitutional bounds. You are wrong in saying that Republicans want government to control certain things. In fact, the vast majority of Republicans want government to get out of controlling those things, which it does by forcibly directing taxpayer money to those activities.
Your insistence on supporting the Tea Party in elections betrays ignorance of the political process and the Tea Party’s place within it. I repeat, the Tea Party is not a political party and will not run a slate of candidates, although it may endorse certain candidates.
I appreciate your passion, but we can’t have a reasonable discussion of this until you inform yourself better of the facts.

Jim K
Jim K
11 years ago

Thanks for the lesson Bob, but I understand that the true Tea Party as is not an actual political party but a Libertarian philosophy. One that has been perverted by the Neoconservatives. Do you refute this?

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